MGMA's new leader seeks to expand its health IT involvement

Dr. Susan Turney, who has been named as the next president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and the American College of Medical Practice Executives (AMCPE), is a big proponent of health IT and is expected to take MGMA's involvement with information technology to the next level.

During Turney's tenure as CEO and executive vice president of the Wisconsin Medical Society, she has served on several state-level boards related to information technology. The medical society was a founding member of the Wisconsin Statewide Health Information Network (WISHIN), which has received a federal grant to build a statewide health information exchange, and Turney served as WISHIN's chair. Also through Turney's leadership, the society was a co-founder of the Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO), an alliance of providers, health plans and other stakeholders that aims to use data to improve healthcare quality and efficiency.

MGMA selected Turney to be its next leader for a number of reasons, MGMA Board Chair Shena Scott tells FierceHealthIT, but her involvement in and understanding of IT issues certainly was one of them.

"Wisconsin has been ahead of the curve in integration [of providers] and therefore on health IT, including things like health information exchanges," Scott says. "This is something the rest of us in less advanced areas of the country will be facing in coming years. So I think Dr. Turney's experience in this area will be a real benefit for the association."

Much of WISHIN's focus is on bringing smaller practices into the digital age and into the HIEs in which 70 percent of Wisconsin doctors already participate. Scott expects that Turney also will work with smaller MGMA members that need help in implementing EHRs and exchanging data so that they can remain independent.

"The fact that she's worked with smaller groups and helped bring them along in Wisconsin will be very helpful to our members," Scott says.

Alan Winkler, board chair of the AMCPE--MGMA's credentialing and standard-setting body--points out that under the organization's current CEO, Dr. William Jessee, administration simplification has driven much of its health IT efforts.

"Dr. Turney's hands-on understanding of IT initiatives will take that to the next step," Winkler predicts. "Her role at the Marshfield Clinic in financial services allowed her to meld what she did as a clinician with what she understood about the business of medicine. And her new role at MGMA gives her the perfect platform to communicate a lot of those things she's observed and participated in."

Dr. Turney will not be available for media interviews until she takes the MGMA helm in October, an association spokesman tells FierceHealthIT

To learn more:
- read the MGMA press release
- see Dr. Turney's biography